Weekly update: 30 May – 5 June 2022 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 30 May to 5 June 2022.
Guernica 37 will provide weekly media updates from the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, European Union and other sources. Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Nigeria – 30 May 2022
A spate of killings in south-east Nigeria blamed on a prominent Biafran secessionist group has sparked outrage and added another layer of insecurity in the country, where kidnappings for ransom are common in the north-west and an Islamist insurgency has been going on for more than a decade in the north-east. In one incident last week a pregnant mother and her four children were killed as they were travelling home from a visit to family members on a motorcycle taxi.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) – 30 May 2022
Amnesty International stated that authorities in the UAE must immediately release a group of dissidents languishing behind bars despite having completed their prison sentences. The UAE authorities are using a vaguely worded “counterterror” law, which enables them to arbitrarily keep people in detention on the pretext of “counter-extremism counselling”.
United Kingdom (UK) – 31 May 2022
The government has been accused of watering down efforts to combat economic crime after putting forward proposals that could reduce transparency around small company accounts. It said it was reviewing the kind of reporting burdens faced by the UK’s smallest businesses in the hope of reducing the cost and time required to produce public accounts to a level of detail that it claimed was “only needed for larger companies”. However, critics said the government was exaggerating the burden on firms, and that the proposals risked weakening efforts to combat economic crime, given that small firms have been at the heart of a number of money laundering, fraud and tax evasion scandals.
Libya – 31 May 2022
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that new information from Libyan agencies and demining groups links the Wagner Group to the use of banned landmines and booby traps in Libya in 2019-2020. The Wagner Group, a private Russian military security contractor with apparent links to Russia’s government, backed Khalifa Hiftar’s Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) in their attack on the Libyan capital, Tripoli. These mines killed at least three Libyan deminers before the mines’ locations were identified. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), mandated since 2011 to investigate war crimes and other grave crimes in Libya, should examine the role of Libyan and foreign armed groups in laying antipersonnel mines during the 2019-2020 conflict. During his briefing to the United Nations Security Council in April 2022, the prosecutor reiterated that his office would make the Libya investigation a priority.
Ukraine – 31 May 2022
Two Russian soldiers have each been sentenced to more than 11 years in jail after a court in central Ukraine found them guilty of firing artillery at civilian areas. The verdict after the trial in the Poltava region came one week after another court in the capital, Kyiv, gave a 21-year-old Russian soldier a life sentence – the country’s first judicial reckoning on Russia’s invasion.
United Kingdom (UK) – 31 May 2022
Priti Patel was warned by her own officials that lifting restrictions on police stop and search powers could damage community relations and lead to more people from minority ethnic backgrounds being targeted. An equality impact assessment of stop and search options, commissioned by the Home Office, found that making it easier for the police to stop people may lead to more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds being stopped. In a letter to police forces earlier this month, the home secretary outlined the easing of conditions, enforced in 2014, on the use of the tactics under section 60 of the criminal justice and public order act. Section 60 powers give officers the right to search people without reasonable grounds in an area where they expect serious violence, and to look for weapons before they can be used or for those used in a recent attack.
European Court of Human Rights – 31 May 2022
In the case of Taner Kılıç (no. 2) v. Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5(1), Article 5(3), Article 5(5) and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned the initial and continued pre-trial detention of Mr Kılıç who, at the relevant time, was Chairperson of the Turkish branch of the NGO Amnesty International. Mr Kılıç was arrested in June 2017 on suspicion of belonging to the organisation FETÖ/PDY. The authorities
accused him, in particular, of using the ByLock messaging service, and of other offences.
United Kingdom (UK) / Iran – 1 June 2022
The UK government must investigate Iranian officials who are suspected of responsibility for the crime of hostage-taking against British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to force the UK government to settle a decades-old debt, and where sufficient evidence exists, request their extradition in order to prosecute them in fair trials. Amnesty International laid out compelling evidence that Iran’s detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe amounted to an act of hostage-taking, which is a crime under international law and highlighted the plight of other held dual and foreign nationals whose arbitrary detention may amount to hostage-taking. Amnesty International submitted this evidence last month to the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which launched its own inquiry into state level hostage situations.
Mali – 1 June 2022
Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned a deadly attack on 1 June 2022 against a UN Peacekeeping logistics convoy near the town of Kidal in northern Mali. For roughly an hour, the convoy came under direct fire from suspected members of a terrorist group using small arms and rocket launchers. Four Jordanian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, were injured in the attack, one of whom died from his injuries after being evacuated.
El Salvador – 2 June 2022
In El Salvador, more than 35,000 people have been detained in less than three months, and the human rights of the population are seriously under threat. Salvadoran authorities have committed widespread human rights violations under an emergency regime, imposed on 27 March, and extended twice, supposedly as a measure to punish gangs. Amnesty International has found evidence that people are being detained simply for having tattoos, previous criminal charges, or for living in poor and marginalized neighbourhoods affected by gang violence. Detainees have no access to effective legal defence and are being held in inhumane conditions.
European Court of Human Rights – 2 June 2022
The case of H.M. and Others v. Hungary concerned an Iraqi family’s detention in a transit zone at the border between Hungary and Serbia after fleeing Iraq. The European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the conditions the mother and children had faced during their four-month-long stay in the transit zone. The Court also considered that the use of handcuffs and leash on the father when accompanying his wife to a hospital appointment had not been justified. In addition, it held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5(1) and Article 4 of the Convention, because there had been no legal basis for the family’s detention, and they had not had any way of having their situation examined speedily by a court.
Ukraine / Russia – 3 June 2022
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Russian forces have seized 20% of his country's territory, as Moscow's invasion nears its 100th day. Russian forces have been intensifying attacks on the city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Donbas region. UK defence officials say Russia has seized most of the city and are making "steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery". Severodonetsk is the easternmost city under Ukrainian control and regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Russia was trying to break through defences in the city "from all directions". In a video address, Mr Zelensky said the situation in Donbas had not changed significantly that day but that Ukrainians had experienced "some success" in battles in Severodonetsk.
Africa / Russia – 3 June 2022
The head of the African Union, Macky Sall, told Vladimir Putin that African countries are innocent victims of the war in Ukraine and Russia should help ease their suffering. After talks in Sochi, Macky Sall said the Russian leader had promised to ease the export of cereals and fertiliser, but gave no details. Mr Putin denied Moscow was preventing Ukrainian ports from exporting grain. Over 40% of wheat consumed in Africa usually comes from Russia and Ukraine. Kyiv and its allies blame Moscow for blockading the ports, which Ukraine has mined to prevent a Russian amphibious assault. The UN's crisis coordinator, Amin Awad, said that “failure to open those ports will result in famine”. He said a grain shortage could affect 1.4 billion people and trigger mass migration.